Celebrating Black History Through the Years

From Gee's Bend quilts to graphic novels, from Harlem to the world, discover how Google Arts & Culture has celebrated Black History Month in recent years and what 2021 has in store

By Google Arts & Culture

Montreal Swing Riot (2017-06-29/2017-07-02)Frankie Manning Foundation

The history of black culture in the United States is one of defiance and adversity, but is also rich with creativity, innovation, and hope. 

Scroll on to discover how Google Arts & Culture has marked the occasion of Black History Month in recent years, in collaboration with some of the world's leading creative and historical institutions. 

Portrait of Thelonious Monk by William Gottlieb by William GottliebSFJAZZ Center

2020: Our Most Searched Stories

In 2020, you asked, and Google answered! Users were treated to the most popular stories about black culture and arts based on the most searched-for content. From 100 years of Thelonious Monk's groundbreaking jazz keys...

Rosa Parks by Library of CongressNational Women's Hall of Fame

...to stories from the Civil Rights Movement, including Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

STS-47 MS Jemison works in the Spacelab Japan (SLJ) module aboard OV-105 (1992-09-20)NASA

Users could also discover Civil Rights heroes like lawyer and activist, Pauli Murray, and other pioneers like astronaut Mae C. Jemison, the first black woman in space.

Moses(es) premiere (2013) by Artistic Director/Choreographer: Reggie WilsonReggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group

2019: The Year of Dance

In 2019, Google Arts & Culture partnered with institutions to tell the story of black culture and history through dance and movement. Users could discover the birth of the pioneering black ballerinas of the Dance Theatre of Harlem...

HellaBlackLindyHop Performance (2018-05-26) by Brett Dahlenburg - VideoFrankie Manning Foundation

...or dance along to the Lindy Hop!

African American quilts (c. 1900) by Edith MorganSouls Grown Deep Foundation

2021: Weaving New Stories

This year, we celebrate new stories. Gee's Bend, Alabama is perhaps an unlikely hub of black culture. But from the early 1800s, weavers and makers in this small black community continued to defy oppression, slavery, and Jim Crow to create vibrant, meticulously crafted quilts.

Broken Pieces (2008) by Marlene Bennett JonesOriginal Source: Private Collection

The Souls Grow Deep Foundation works hard to preserve and celebrate black creativity and history in the Southern states. They can help you learn the history of the Gee's Bend women, or discover contemporary artists responding to black history in the South, like Thornton Dial.

First Lady Michelle Obama (2018) by Amy SheraldSmithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

The Gee's Bend quilts themselves have such strong heritage that they even get a nod in Amy Sherald's official 2018 portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama.

Zoom in and explore this iconic, historic picture for yourself, here.

Shindana Catalog (1976) by Shindana ToysThe Strong National Museum of Play

Power through play

The representation of people of color in toys has historically been either based in harmful stereotypes or simply non-existent. From the 1960s through to the '80s, Shindana Toys sought to change that, promoting positive representation through play. 

Discover the history of this often overlooked area of progressive creativity in this story, made in collaboration with the Strong National Museum of Play

Josie And The Pussy Cats Original Production Cel 1 (1970-09-12/1971-01-02) by Hanna-BarberaMuseum Of UnCut Funk

Animation for the Nation

Speaking of uncovering lost gems, the Museum of UnCut Funk has partnered with Google Arts & Culture during Black History Month to shine a light on the history of black animators.

Celebrate this lost art form here...

Black Nerd Comedy on Black comics

...then watch and listen as black nerds tell you the joyous, creative, future-oriented history of black comics.

Art and Identity

Watch and learn as six artists, including Kehinde Wiley and Wangechi Mutu, explore the links between creative expression and black identity from African history to contemporary Western art. 

Supermodel (1994) by Kerry James MarshallMuseum of Fine Arts, Boston

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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